Chris Corning’s creativity leads to a World Cup slopestyle win in Switzerland
Chris Corning is back on top of the International Ski & Snowboard Federation's World Cup slopestyle season standings after a victory on Friday at the Laax Open in Switzerland.
A week after taking second place at the Kreischberg, Austria, World Cup slopestyle event, Corning tamed the creative slopestyle course in Laax to head into this week's Winter X Games in Aspen with his first slopestyle victory of the season. The World Cup slopestyle win in Laax for the 19-year-old Silverthorne resident is on the heels of back-to-back second-place finishes at Kreischberg last week and at the Dew Tour at Breckenridge Ski Resort last month.
Entering X Games — a non-World Cup event — Corning now has 1,800 World Cup slopestyle points, ahead of Japanese teen sensation Takeru Otsuka (1,500) and Swedish rider Niklas Mattsson (1,220).
In the overall World cup park and pipe standings (which combine slopestyle, big air and halfpipe results), Corning's 3,890 points feature 2,090 points from World Cup big air competitions. As a result, he ranks in second place in the overall standings, just 210 points behind Otsuka (4,100). The 17-year-old Otsuka has a 2,600-2,090 point advantage over Corning in World Cup big air competitions thus far this season.
Corning was able to pull off the victory in Laax on his third and final run through the slopestyle course, one which alternated between rail and jump sections before concluding with a right-handed banked turn into one final rail hit.
Corning earned a first-place score of 89.10 on that final run on the strength of his back-to-back 1440 combo on the two larger jumps in Laax. The run began, though, with Corning calmly throwing down a frontside 180 into the first rail feature, followed up by a half-cab to a 50-50 to a frontside 360 out of that first rail feature.
Riding his regular goofy foot style (right foot forward) into the next feature, Corning tightened his right foot binding before executing his trademark back-side rodeo to set up riding switch into the course's third feature and first jump. On that first, smaller jump, Corning achieved great amplitude on his flat-spin, cab 1260 with a nose grab, a move that required three-and-a-half horizontal 360-degree rotations.
Riding regular heading into the next jump feature, Corning was able to get around the four full horizontal rotations that comprise his flat-spin frontside 1440 with a melon grab. Corning then attacked the course's third and final jump with a backside triple-cork 1440 with a melon grab, a move that requires him to invert three times on his vertical axis while also rotating horizontally four times. Corning landed fast and deep on that triple-cork attempt, slowing down his speed heading into the banked feature before the final rail.
Corning rotated to enter the banked turn riding switch before he concluded his run riding goofy and with careful execution on the final rail. It came via a backside 270 onto the rail before landing a board-slide on the bottom portion of the rail and a 270 off of the rail, pumping his fist in celebration when he hit the snow.
"It was an amazing day," Corning said to reporters in Switzerland, "I put down my first run in finals, but it wasn't exactly a clean run. But then I was able to pull it all back together and put it down like I wanted in my second run. That last rail has been giving me trouble all week in my competition runs and on that last one I was just like, 'I don't care, I'm stomping this.' And I did, so to be able to stand on top of that podium with so many good riders here is awesome."
Corning was joined on the Laax podium by the man who bested him for first place at Dew Tour, Norway's Stale Sandbech (87.35). The third place podium position was awarded to home country rider Moritz Thoenen of Switzerland, who's score of 80.55 gave him his first World Cup podium. Other top American competitors included Hawaiian Lyon Farrell (seventh) and Nik Baden of Steamboat Springs (10th). Neither of Summit County's two Olympic medal-winning snowboarders from Pyeongchang 2018, Red Gerard or Kyle Mack, competed in Laax.
In the women's slopestyle competition, Norwegian Silje Norendal won her first World Cup event with a score of 78.35 followed by Swiss riders Celia Petrig (67.60) and Sina Candrian (65.40) and American Julia Marino (54.10).
Gold podiums in halfpipe
In Saturday's men's halfpipe competition, Australian Scotty James continued his torrid run through the 2018-19 halfpipe season, winning the Laax Open with a score of 95.75. It followed up James' victories at last month's season-opening World Cup event at Copper Mountain Resort and at the Dew Tour modified superpipe the ensuing week.
In Laax, James was joined on the podium by Japanese rider Yuto Totsuka (92.00) and Eagle-Vail's Jake Pates (85.50). James picked up the win via a run through the pipe that consisted of the following tricks: a switch backside 1080 indy, a backside 1080 mute, a frontside 1080 tail grab, a cab double-cork 1080 mute, and a frontside double-cork 1260 stalefish.
"The Laax Open was an event I've wanted to win for a while," James told reporters in Switzerland, "and to do it under the lights in front of all these fans makes it extra special. I've been working on that run for a while and it's nice to put it all together. The switch backside riding, I really enjoy it and it's a big element of my run. I'm trying to keep it technical but also keep the amplitude up and hopefully look like I'm enjoying myself while I'm at it."
Pates' first World Cup podium of his career saw him attempt four double-corked rotations out of his five total hits in his run. Pates' full run through the pipe consisted of a double McTwist mute, a frontside double-cork 1080 mute, a cab double-cork 1080 indy, a frontside 900 tail and a double Michalchuk indy.
In the women's competition, heavy favorite Chloe Kim of California won once again, with a score of 93.75, well ahead of Spanish veteran Queralt Castellet (80.50) and resident-Breckenridge rider Arielle Gold (77.25). Gold's run on Saturday featured a new trick for her typical halfpipe run, when she landed a clean 1080 where she would typically do a 900. Gold's full run through the pipe consisted of a frontside 1080 tail, a cab 720 mute, a frontside 720 indy, a cab 720 mute, a crippler indy and a Michalchuk melon.